Why are there 2 different NY license plates?

Why are there 2 different NY license plates?

The white “Empire State plates” were issued to vehicles from January 2001 – March 31, 2010. The “Gold (yellow) Empire State plates” were issued from April 1, 2010 – May 2020. The newest “Excelsior plates” are also white. It just means some vehicles were registered earlier than others.

The yellow ones are the current design; the white ones are older. When they redesign license plates, most states allow existing plates to remain in use rather than issuing new ones to everyone.

Why are there two different NY license plates?

The plate design was updated. But the DMV don’t actively try to replace old plates with new ones. They simply stop issuing old plate designs. Eventually, the old plates phase out on their own.

I don’t like the latest plate design. It feels like a lazy design. There’s not much on it that indicates that it’s a NY plate. Sure, it says “New York” on top and “Empire State” on the bottom, and it uses the shape of the state as a spacer. But everything else is completely arbitrary (i.e. the colours and lines).

I liked the previous design. It was busy and cheesy. But at least they clearly put some thought into it. There’s the Niagara Falls. There’s the NYC skyline, with the Empire State Building being the prominent feature. There are the mountains presumably representing either the Catskills or the Adirondack. That’s very NY.

My favourite design is the one before, with the Statue of Liberty in the middle. It’s minimalist and effectively portrays clearly that this is a NY plate. I feel like they should reuse this design and update the colour scheme to make it more modern.

Update: And now we have this one, which is a huge improvement. The lines, font, and colours look clean. There’s a whole bunch of NY stuff on the bottom, but it doesn’t draw your attention unless you’re looking for it. And it has the state motto, “Excelsior”, which I’ve always thought sounded awesome.

What’s the difference between the yellow and white license plates used in NYC?

The yellow license plates are the currently issued type. The white ones are the ones that were issued before the yellow ones. Usually, when a new design for a license plate is adopted, the state requires that the old ones be turned in and exchanged for the new ones.

In the present case, however, there was extensive opposition to the change, which many viewed as a way to squeeze more money from drivers. 

In addition, because the new plates no longer had a picture of the Statue of Liberty, the change was considered an insult. To appease the opposition, the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles provided that drivers could keep their old white plates if they wanted.

Is there a significance to the colour of the license plates for cars in New York?

Gold and dark blue have long been New York’s colours. These aren’t official, but the association has long been there. 

According to official New York state marketing, gold is supposed to invoke inspiration, while blue is supposed to invoke authenticity.

This might be true, but the first colonial flag to fly over New York was the Dutch flag when it was founded as the colony of New Amsterdam in 1624. The Dutch flag at the time was orange, white, and blue, which are the same colours as the flag of New York City today. 

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I think the blue and gold of New York plates and marketing are actually a nod to the state’s Dutch heritage, but no one wants to say it.

The Dutch flag was based on the colours of William of Orange, who led a successful revolt against the Spanish Hapsburgs in the 16th century. William’s name is not related to the colour or the fruit; that’s just a coincidence. Blue, white, and orange were the colours of his regiment.

Is there a reason New York license plates are blue or yellow?

The colours are blue and orange, the same as the New York Mets baseball team. It is based on the Dutch flag since the Dutch were the first Europeans to settle in New York.

Why does New York City have two license plate designs?

New York actually has three legal designs for its license plates:

Since 2010, the current one (on the far left above) is the “Empire Gold” design, which is used for all new plates and is optional on renewals.

Pure and simple, plate changing is for revenue enhancement. The state makes millions of dollars more in charging for new plates than it costs them to make. It’s one of the stupider, more pernicious ideas around.

Why does New York have different variations of their license plates? Is it to show which part they’re from?

NY changed the design of license plates several years ago from a white background to a gold/orange background. Due to public outcry over the cost of replacing them, people could choose to keep their existing plates.

There is a new push for yet another design change, which will suffer the same pushback.

NY also has numerous special designs for various affinity groups, sports teams, regional attractions, etc., which add to the variety of plates you see.

Why are some NY license plates only four characters?

New York State allows vehicle owners to request custom license plates with 1 to 8 characters (for an extra fee.) The only restriction is that they are not obviously offensive, misleading or in the same format as standard issue plates. There are 1, 2, 3 and 4 character plates. Many people attempt to spell out cute phrases, names or initials that hold some significant meaning to them.

Standard passenger plates currently being issued have three letters, a space and four numbers. Standard commercial plates have five numbers, a space and two letters. Certain two-lever combinations are reserved, including EV for emergency vehicles, LV for livery vehicles, VF for volunteer firefighters, MD for doctors, TX & TY for taxicabs, BA & BB for busses, PE for licensed Professional Engineers, etc. 

There are numerous other reserved sequences and formats that cannot be used in custom plates, which will be rejected if requested.

Why do some cars in New York State have no license plates on the front of their cars?

Often, it’s because they are from another state, where front plates are optional. NYS requires both front and rear plates, so anyone without a front plate could be stopped and ticketed.

Only two exceptions I’m aware of:

  1. “dealer” plates. Dealerships don’t put plates on every single car on their lot. Rather, when you take a car out for a test drive, a dealer plate is temporarily affixed. To save time, they use a rear plate, and most dealers have their dealer plates in magnetic frames, so they save even more time by not having to use screws to affix and remove the plate.
  2. Police cars sometimes have custom front plates and sometimes standard NYS plates.

Is it legal to have an off-centre front license plate in New York?

Front plates are there so that an officer can identify your vehicle from the front.

Some cars have front bumpers that are curved around from one side to the other. At extreme limits, a plate on the left side is too far beyond the curve to be read by an officer on the right side of the road.

With this in mind, the plate need not be in the middle as long as it is in a location that can be read by officers and automated plate readers.

Can you drive without a license plate in New York?

You can until you get pulled over. Once that happens, you are likely to get a ticket. 

So that ticket doesn’t prevent another cop from giving you a ticket for the same thing again or the same cop from giving you another ticket for the same thing, your life will be much easier to put the plate on if you have it or replace the set of plates if you don’t. Life is hard enough without running cross-current to the rules when you don’t have to.

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Why are there 2 different NY license plates?

Why is the letter “I” not permitted on the New York license plates?

The letter “I” is too similar to the number “1”, which means that if both were allowed, it would be possible to have multiple plates that appear to have the same text. That could be a problem.

For the same reason, many states (I don’t know for sure about New York) also don’t use the letters “O” and “Q” because they look too much like the number “0”. However, some other states have fonts that make these letters look different enough that they believe it is fine to use them.

Additionally, in most states, vanity plates can contain any letters, even these potentially confusing ones like this picture I took on my way home from work a few months ago:

If you can’t tell, that says: ONE ONE I ONE I ONE ONE

Why are some NY plates yellow?

I live in New York. For some strange reason, every so often, New York redesigns its license plates. If you have an older plate, you keep it. Even if you get a new or used car, you can transfer your old plate to the new car. 

I can think of 4 different designs currently seen on the roads, not counting speciality plates and vanity plates. My plates are yellow.

Why are some EU license plates yellow?

In the UK, number plates are reflective; the plates on the rear of the vehicle are yellow because it is illegal to display a white light on the rear of a vehicle. The front plates are white, so when a light hits them, they show white to the front.

It also helps in spotting a Dutch car driving towards you as they have yellow plates front and back. No matter how little I drive or where in the country, I always seem to spot a Dutch car.

Why do people hide their license plates in the EU?

We hide our number plates when we post pictures of our vehicles online because number plate cloning is a problem.

IIRC, in the US, the DMV issues you with your number plates. As a result, the manufacture of number plates is restricted. In the UK, at least, you can buy a number plate online with very few checks.

The law states that a number plate maker must check that the person ordering it is the keeper, but this is rarely enforced.

So, suppose you post a picture of your vehicle with the number plate visible. In that case, somebody with a similar vehicle can clone your car and drive around with your road tax, your insurance, and your MOT, and any speeding or parking tickets will come to you instead of them.

Why do cars have yellow number plates at the back and white at the front, but only in England?

There are three separate legal systems in the UK: England and Wales, Scotland & N. Ireland.

The Motor Vehicle (Registration and Licensing) Regulations apply to England and Wales. They state that number plates shall be white reflective to the front and yellow reflective to the rear with black numbers and letters.

The reason for this is that the Motor Vehicle (Lighting) Regulations make showing a white light or reflector to the rear an offence.

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Why can British license plates not have a blue EU/GB strip or similar, whereas it appears to be on all vehicles in other European countries?

You can have a blue strip (or an optional green strip if driving an EV). The idea is that it bears the country code (GB) for when driving abroad, plus a flag designator.

But it’s always been optional. Most people, if they had these number plates, had the EU stars, but some people opted for the Union flag. I’m uncertain if the St. George’s cross flag was strictly legal or the equivalents for Scotland, Wales and N.Ireland, but you sometimes see them about.

But it’s all optional. You don’t have to have the blue strip at all, though if you go abroad, you will need a GB sticker. You will also need a GB sticker if you have the old EU symbol or a blue strip that has GB without the flag.

Do the EU states use their car plates?

First of all, a very quick geography lesson… Unlike the US, the EU and Europe are not comprised of states but of separate countries. These have their languages, governments, laws, customs, etc., and some even have their currencies.

The answer to your question is yes; each country has not only its special way of organising car number plates but also the format in which the numerals and letters are displayed on the plates.

These car registration plates generally remain the same throughout the car’s lifespan unless owners move to reside permanently in another country. Then, after a designated time, cars should be registered in the immigrants’ new country, and the original plates should be replaced to conform to the style of the new country.

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New York changed its license plate design recently. For decades, it was a white background with blue and red text/graphics.

Recently, it changed to an orange background with blue text. You see two plate designs because many people kept the old plates without surrendering them to the DMV. Over time, I’m sure you’ll see fewer white plates.

Interesting side note. The decision to move to the new plates was made by NY Governor Patterson, who is blind.

Why are there 2 different NY license plates?

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